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According to the political and socioeconomic perspective of Karl Marx, the word proletariat refers to a class of very low wage earners that are found in a capitalist society. The name was derived from a census exercise that was carried out after every five years where a register of citizens and their property was recorded (Gilbert, 101). From this exercise, the citizen’s voting rights and military activities could be determined. Their possessions and material value was vested on their collaborative labor power. According to Butcher, members of this class are referred to as proletarians. Proletarians owned little or no property and they were regularly denied voting rights because of their low class social status (29). Most importantly, the only value addition activity that they were characterized off in the Roman society was their ability to bear children and maybe regarded only as living creatures.
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On the other hand, the term bourgeoisie was a philosophy by the Marxists that referred to middle class citizens who owned all the methods and means of production during the industrialization period (Butcher 79). The term came from the French word bourgeoisie that could mean people who resided in the borough or generally people who resided in the city. In this regard, the French term also means a sociologically labeled group of individuals of the upper middle class with strong cultural and financial muscle. They are believed to have an opposite and different lifestyle as compared to the proletariat class. The bourgeois emerged from a political and historical phenomenon during the 11th century where these individuals from Western and Central Europe began to develop urban cities for commercial purposes (Egbert 103).
In a political, historical and socioeconomic perspective, Marx offered a clear distinction between bourgeois and proletarian. Karl Marx began by stating that the bourgeoisie played a vital role about global revolution in the historical point of view. When it successfully gained power, it ended the idyllic, feudal and patriarchal relations that existed in the Roman society (Gianangio par. 2). It eliminated the relationships between individuals and their superiors thereby leaving behind relationships between groups of individuals characterized by greed and self-interests. Religious fervors, sentimentalism and chivalry were all sacrificed. Exchange value became the measure of personal worth and the sole freedom that existed was the freedom to carry out trading activities. Eventually, the mode of exploitation that existed in the foundation of political and religious platforms all of a sudden became blatant, direct and brutal amidst the working population (Butcher 119). Marx also explains that the bourgeoisie transformed all occupations and commercial activities into wage-laboring trade activities and professions including those that where highly respected and honored like engineers and nurses. Most unfortunate was the fact that family values were reduced or even lost among the members of this class into pure financial relations.
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In the historical point of view of Karl Marx, the proletariats were also unique in their own way. During the past, when a given class achieved an upper hand advantage, it worked towards subjecting the entire society to its individual mode of appropriation. Unfortunately, the proletariat class did not own any or owned less property for themselves. In the event, they had to destroy all the means of owning and securing private property. Gilbert concludes that even though this movement was started by minority groups, they grew and became the vast majority among the Roman citizens. These groups then began acting in the interest of the majority in return (133).
Bourgeoisie and Proletariat in the American Society
Bourgeoisie and Proletariat are a reality in modern America. As one grows up in the modern society of America, the individual can realize that not everyone is lucky enough to have neither a shelter nor a place to sleep. A majority of citizens in America are still making a minimum wage, which cannot sustain a citizen, leave alone the person’s family. In fact, the narrative “one’s hard work leads to one’s success” is a total illusion for an average American citizen (Gianangio par. 2). In addition to this, the presence of bourgeoisie and proletariat in America can be attributed to the fact that the nation’s middle class continues to shrink as the cost of living and inflation standards continue to rise.
In Marx’s point of view, the bourgeoisie are wealthy individuals who control the most elements of power in an economy such as that of America. In essence, 5% of Americans make more payments on goods and taxes, which can be translated to a higher income bracket for this population. They pay 58.7% of America’s taxes while those on the bottom are able to pay only 2.7% of America’s annual taxes (Gianangio par. 2). This is because the citizens at the bottom do not make more income, which in reference can be defined as poverty, thus their contribution is proportionately nonexistent. As this event continues to become the status quo over the years, rich individuals in America yearn to manufacture more profits be means of outsourcing since they would love to maintain these margins as larger as possible. This process leads to an ever-spreading difference in social classes causing more division between these populations of America.
In America, the rich and those belonging to the upper middle class view the proletariat in the form of money, which happens to be their exchange value as Marx, puts it. They have so much concern and care on the bottom line, not as just fellow citizens, but as means of accumulating more money and wealth (Gianangio par. 4). In other words, it is more of similar to slavery because those who belong to the bourgeoisie need the proletariat who act as slaves for financial accumulation and wealth creation. As the bourgeoisie continue to make more wealth in America, they will also continue to employ cheap labor from the bourgeoisie in their respective businesses and companies since this also acts as an avenue for wealth creation. Lastly, as technology also continues to grow n America, the rich also tend to attend to every opportunity they get thereby by the bottom social class continues to grow as time goes by (Gianangio par. 5).
In my personal view, I belong to the proletariat class because I am still on the verge of looking for a better employment opportunity, which will translate into a better wage n the future. Unless one earns some substantial wage, it becomes very difficult to get out of the bottom social class and get into the middle class. Other than just earning a good wage, one also needs to think outside the box so that he or she becomes a producer and eventually an employer or a venture owner in an economy. This process requires some substantial capital, which comes from years of savings, asset financing and financial support from relevant institutions (Gianangio par. 5).
- Butcher, Jeffrey. “Shakespeare’s American Proletarian Cultural Authority.” American Communist History 14.1 (2015): 57-79.
- Egbert, Donald Drew. Socialism and American life. Vol. 1. Princeton University Press, 2015.
- Gianangio, Lillo. Is there a Bourgeoisie and Proletariat in America? Life Examinations.
- Gilbert, Dennis. The American class structure in an age of growing inequality. Sage Publications, 2014.